Where In The World: A Week In Spain Testing Hypermotards and Dukes

Troy Siahaan
by Troy Siahaan

Trizzle’s week-long Spanish residency testing five different bikes from two manufacturers

As moto-journos, we get into this job to ride new bikes in far off locations. For 2024 anyway, that means Spain. Nearly every new model intro is being held in Spain this year, one literally right after the other. As was the case with the 2024 Ducati Hypermotard 698 Mono launch and KTM’s “30 Years of Duke” event held in Valencia and Almeria, respectively. Here’s a sneak peak into some of the things that go on behind the scenes at these events.

2024 Ducati Hypermotard 698 Mono Review – First Ride

For starters, I wasn’t sure I would make it to Valencia in the first place, as Los Angeles was due to experience the worst of the atmospheric river weather event the Monday I was scheduled to fly out. Despite my car wearing really old and rather bald tires, I made it to LAX without a hitch. More surprising was that all my flights were on time and I made it to Spain just fine. And my bags didn’t get lost, either!

We fought jet lag and the urge to fall asleep by taking a stroll around Valencia. MotoGP fans might know the town for the famous racetrack that hosts the season finale every year, but the city is also known for its beautiful museums and architecture. Oh, and it has really cool parks for kids and the kids at heart.

Hotel dinners and Powerpoint presentations aren’t very exciting, so I’ll skip over that and the actual riding of the Ducati Hypermotard 698 Mono because you can click that link and read about the bike for yourself. After 4.5 hours in a car, with a driver who refused to set the cruise control over 100 kph, Bradley Adams from Cycle World magazine and I found ourselves in Almeria, at a press event unlike any other I’ve been to – and I’ve been to a lot.

Ostensibly, we were there to ride the updated 390 Duke, new 990 Duke, and revised 1390 Super Duke R. From the moment we arrived at the hotel, however, we knew this one was going to be different. KTM went above and beyond covering all the little details.

First off, there was a KTM 620 Duke roped off in the lobby. The bike that started it all, this wasn’t just any 620 Duke – this was serial number 1. The very first Duke.

Then there was the key to my hotel room. In case there was any doubt, KTM is all-in with this new headlight design…

And this is definitely the most interesting wifi password I’ve seen…

Inside the room were more nods to everything Duke… and more hashtags.

After learning about the updates to the 390 Duke, we walked outside to see Rok Bagoros, stunt rider and KTM’s Duke ambassador, smoking up the rear tire of his modified 250 Duke stunt bike as he put on a show for all of us.

Once we were finally on the 390s, we left the hotel and started our ride. I noticed my fuel gauge was only half full. I didn’t think much of it since we were told the ride wouldn’t be super long. Except we were met with some crazy wind – the kind that makes you feel like you’re putting your knee on the ground just to go straight. Despite the conditions, when you place a bunch of motojournos together, we’re bound to do silly things. In this case, it was all we could do to keep up with our lead rider aboard his 990 Duke. With lots of straight roads, not a lot of horsepower, and a headwind it seemed we were perpetually riding into, we naturally kept it pegged in sixth gear and tucked into each other’s draft. All that to barely get into the triple digits.

When I looked down again, that’s when I saw my low fuel light flashing and the estimated range read a big, fat zero!

I pulled up to the lead rider at a stop, pointed to my fuel tank, and told him it was low. His response? A head nod as he clicked into first and stormed off. I couldn’t tell you how much further back we rode with my fuel gauge reading zero, but lo and behold, I made it back to base under my own power.

With the golden hour at hand, our dear friend Nic De Sena apparently had a moment with the 390 Duke…

At dinner, the hashtag festivities continued. This drink coaster was my personal favorite.

On day 2 things got more serious as we rode the 990 Duke into elevation, where we were not only greeted by some amazing roads, but also by black ice and snow. It was bloody cold, despite the sun shining.

Back at base, we got the low-down on the 1390 Super Duke by none other than Jeremy McWilliams. The former MotoGP rider turned bagger badass has been involved with the Super Duke project since day 1 – 14 years ago – and filled us in on all there is to know about the bike. Mostly because he was responsible for testing it. Unfortunately, rain cut our riding at the Almeria track short…

Desperate to salvage something on the big Duke, the collective group shouted “Let’s do wheelies and burnouts!” It was in jest of course, but imagine our surprise when Gareth Davidson, KTM’s Product Marketing Manager, came back and told us the photo and video team were waiting for us at the start of Almeria’s back straight. “Go do your wheelies and burnouts.” You don’t need to tell us twice.

You have to understand, this kind of thing would never happen at any other press intro. No other manufacturer would accept the risk or responsibility of having riders pop wheelies and do rolling burnouts on a wet racetrack while it’s still actively raining. But KTM’s different. In case all the examples above didn’t already tell you that.

In the final act of “You don’t see this at press launches,” our goodbye dinner was capped by a DJ set. Why? Because KTM.

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Troy Siahaan
Troy Siahaan

Troy's been riding motorcycles and writing about them since 2006, getting his start at Rider Magazine. From there, he moved to Sport Rider Magazine before finally landing at Motorcycle.com in 2011. A lifelong gearhead who didn't fully immerse himself in motorcycles until his teenage years, Troy's interests have always been in technology, performance, and going fast. Naturally, racing was the perfect avenue to combine all three. Troy has been racing nearly as long as he's been riding and has competed at the AMA national level. He's also won multiple club races throughout the country, culminating in a Utah Sport Bike Association championship in 2011. He has been invited as a guest instructor for the Yamaha Champions Riding School, and when he's not out riding, he's either wrenching on bikes or watching MotoGP.

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Join the conversation
  • Nicolas Nicolas on Feb 18, 2024

    Well, Valentine's Day was just right around the corner. How could I not?

  • Max Max on Feb 20, 2024

    Wow, that sounds just plain amazing. I just sold my 2022 Super Duke R EVO for a 2023 Aprilia Tuono V4, but that’s SD was no joke, just an insane machine. Hopefully you have video of your whole experience ready to hit YouTube soon?